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RFK son arrested in NY hospital maternity unit clash, police say

WNBC's Jonathan Dienst reports on the incident, and the likely lawsuit to result.

The son of Robert F. Kennedy has been charged with harassment and endangering the welfare of a child for allegedly clashing with two nurses who tried to stop him from taking his 2-day-old baby boy from a Westchester maternity unit, NBC New York has learned.

According to a Mount Kisco, N.Y. police report obtained by NBC New York, Douglas Kennedy, 44, took his baby from the newborn unit of Northern Westchester Hospital on Jan. 7, against the instructions of hospital staff who told him the infant needed to stay there. He faces misdemeanor charges.

Kennedy and his wife, Molly, who was in the hospital to recover from a cesarean section, disputed the accusations in a statement to NBC New York, saying "these allegations are absurd."

The nurse in charge of the unit, Anna Margaret Lane, said in a deposition that Kennedy wanted to take the child "to get fresh air" that evening. As he tried to leave, he was accompanied by a doctor from the hospital's emergency room, identified in court papers as "Dr. Haydock," later determined to be Dr. Timothy Haydock, a longtime family friend.

Read the original story and see security video at NBCNewYork.com

While the nursing staff sought to get Kennedy to return the baby to his bassinet, Haydock reportedly encouraged Kennedy to walk with the baby by telling nurses that he was with him, according to Lane's deposition.

Kennedy ignored the pleas of the nursing staff and carried the newborn -- identified in court papers as "B.K." -- to the elevator, police said.  As the nursing staff tried to calm him and dissuade him from leaving the hospital, Kennedy turned and walked toward a stairwell leading to the outside of the hospital. 

Lane blocked the doorway, "placing both hands on the doorknob" to prevent Kennedy from leaving, police said. Kennedy grabbed the nurse by her left wrist and twisted it to that he could pass into the stairwell, police said.

The baby's head "began to move from side to side, and in an attempt to stabilize the baby's head, nurse Cari Maleman Luciano reached toward the infant's head," police said. 

"Instinctively as a nurse, I raised both my arms toward the neck of the baby to steady the violent shaking of the baby's head and neck," Luciano told investigators in a deposition.

While holding the child in his right arm, Kennedy kicked Luciano in the pelvis with his right foot, knocking her backward onto the floor, police said.

As he did this, Kennedy fell onto the floor with the baby in his arms. Kennedy then got up and ran "down the stairs with the infant until he was stopped by security and escorted back to the infant's room," the police report said.

The police report did not say whether the infant was harmed but Kennedy's lawyer told NBC New York the baby was not injured and slept during the altercation.

The statement to NBC New York from Kennedy and his wife said there was no crime committed.

"The nurse had no right to attempt to grab our child out of his father's arms and I, Douglas, was shocked and appalled when she did so," the statement said.

Haydock said in a statement to NBC New York that Kennedy, whom he has known for more than 40 years, was not putting his healthy baby at risk by seeking to take him for a walk outside.

"I witnessed the incident and I can state unequivocally that the nurses were the only aggressors," he said. "To charge Mr. Kennedy with a crime is simply incomprehensible to me."

Kennedy attorney Robert Gottlieb criticized the nurses' handling of the case.

"What happened to that baby and any danger to that baby was the fault not of Douglas Kennedy but the nurses involved in this case," Gottlieb said. "There is no question about it during the entire incident, Mr. Kennedy was acting very politely, calmly, politely."

Elliot Taub, the two nurses' attorney, said Lane and Luciano "called a ‘code pink,’ that is, it looks like its someone trying to abscond from the hospital with a newborn. That alerts the security staff and when it escalated, they hit what's called a 'code purple,' which means there is someone who is acting inappropriately, highly offensive, is a danger in the hospital."

Kennedy is the 10th child of Robert F. and Ethel Kennedy. He and Molly have four children.

A Brown University graduate, Kennedy started his journalism career with The New York Post and most recently worked as a general assignment reporter and bi-monthly news program host for Fox News.

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